Scientists working on NASA's six-wheeled rover on Mars have a problem. But it's a good problem.
They have some exciting new results from one of the rover's instruments. On the one hand, they'd like to tell everybody what they found, but on the other, they have to wait because they want to make sure their results are not just some fluke or error in their instrument.
John Grotzinger, the principal investigator for the rover mission, says they recently put a soil sample in SAM, and the analysis shows something earthshaking. "This data is gonna be one for the history books. It's looking really good," he says.

My hopes are high that something of real significance has been discovered – but then, I have been disappointed more than once.

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My guess is that they have found some water molecules, probably as part of a clathrate.

When in doubt, test it again ... then again ... then a few more times, just to be CERTAIN.

What I would call "earthshaking" would be something like a key to an underground city, but most likely his definition is much less tremulous than that.

However, I think it's something more satisfying than water.  Haven't they already established that there is water on mars?

They've found water at the poles and evidence of past water everywhere else, but no extant water from in situ measurements in the low latitudes. I don't think it would be that exciting either. Maybe I'm just being pessimistic. 

Yeah, probably something organic.  I don't suppose it's actual microbial life.

Hell, organic compounds and amino acids, as Pat said, wouldn't be anything earthshaking.  We've found those in meteors and such, haven't we?

Yes, amino acids would not be much for the history books unless they were in some unusual form or if they were clearly of Martian origin perhaps.

Ah, yeah, that sounds like what I was thinking of.  One of those smaller astral bodies, anyway.

I pretty sure that it's not water or amino acids as neither would be "one for the history books".  My best guess would be conclusive evidence of ancient life or even better actual living critters - that would make the history books.

You have greater faith in what the instrument P.I. determines worthy of historical note than I do. I remain a skeptic about life on Mars, past or present, and would be astonished (and delighted) if they found anything suggestive of life there.

Well yeah, that's why we're guessing these out there but technically possible scenarios.  From all the noise they're making, if they're right, it's something astonishing and delightful, to use your words.  We'll see what it actually is, when we have confirmation.

This could be a life form more advanced than a mere single cell life. Something like an earthworm for example probably existing in large numbers. It also could be some plant life, past or present.

Or even the fossils of previously-existing life would be awesome.




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